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Harmonious Emptiness

ren/humanity仁 refers to conformism

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To follow the collective effort towards immense populations living in harmony, one models one's self on the expectations, and thus obligations, of one's society, parents, teachers, etc.. This was considered "considerate," towards social harmony, your parents, and the emperors. To always do as they expect you to do was the basis of moral considerations towards others, from which all other moral actions would follow. Following the rules, as such, was revered as "benevolence, and humanity."

 

It is interesting to note that, in the Chuang Tzu, this was not the way of the True Man of Dao.

 

from section 31, The Old Fisherman (trans. Watson)

 

 

Tzu-lu was still framing his reply when Tzu-kung answered, "This man of the K'ung family [Confucius] in his inborn nature adheres to loyalty and good faith, in his person practices benevolence and righteousness; [note that these are distinguished. The most important thing in his heart is loyalty, and thus benevolence is his action] he brings a beautiful order to rites and music and selects what is proper in human relationships. Above, he pays allegiance to the sovereign of the age; below, he transforms the ordinary people through education, and in this way brings profit to the world. Such is the occupation of this man of the Kung family!"

[...]

The stranger then laughed and turned to go, saying as he walked away, "As far as benevolence goes, he is benevolent all right. But I'm afraid he will not escape unharmed. To weary the mind and wear out the body, putting the Truth in peril like this - alas, I'm afraid he is separated from the Great Way by a vast distance indeed!"

[....]

Confucius looked shamefaced and said, "Please, may I ask what you mean by `the Truth'?"

 

The stranger said, "By `the Truth' I mean purity and sincerity in their highest degree. He who lacks purity and sincerity cannot move others. Therefore he who forces himself to lament, though he may sound sad, will awaken no grief. He who forces himself to be angry, though he may sound fierce, will arouse no awe. And he who forces himself to be affectionate, though he may smile, will create no air of harmony. True sadness need make no sound to awaken grief; true anger need not show itself to arouse awe; true affection need not smile to create harmony. When a man has the Truth within himself, his spirit may move among external things. That is why the Truth is to be prized!

 

"It may be applied to human relationships in the following ways. In the service of parents, it is love and filial piety; in the service of the ruler, it is loyalty and integrity; in festive wine drinking, it is merriment and joy; in periods of mourning, it is sadness and grief. In loyalty and integrity, service is the important thing; in festive drinking, merriment is the important thing; in periods of mourning, grief is the important thing; in the service of parents, their comfort is the important thing. In seeking to perform the finest kind of service, one does not always try to go about it in the same way. In assuring comfort in the serving of one's parents, one does not question the means to be employed. In seeking the merriment that comes with festive drinking, one does not fuss over what cups and dishes are to be selected. In expressing the grief that is appropriate to periods of mourning, one does not quibble over the exact ritual to be followed.

 

"Rites are something created by the vulgar men of the world; the Truth is that which is received from Heaven. By nature it is the way it is and cannot be changed. Therefore the sage patterns himself on Heaven, prizes the Truth, and does not allow himself to be cramped by the vulgar. The stupid man does the opposite of this. He is unable to pattern himself on Heaven and instead frets over human concerns. He does not know enough to prize the Truth but instead, plodding along with the crowd, he allows himself to be changed by vulgar ways, and so is never content. Alas, that you fell into the slough of human hypocrisy at such an early age, and have been so late in hearing of the Great Way!"

[...]

 

 

The Fisherman goes on to say that Confucius cannot follow him because he is not yet "True."

Confucius then almost comically goes on to prove this by admonishing his followers for not following the rules of "benevolence," not doing those things which are accepted as "the proper things to do."

 

"Confucius leaned forward on the crossbar, sighed, and said, "You certainly are hard to change! All this time you have been immersed in the study of ritual principles and you still haven't gotten rid of your mean and servile ways of thinking. Come closer and I will explain to you. To meet an elder and fail to treat him with respect is a breach of etiquette. To see a worthy man and fail to honor him is to lack benevolence. If the fisherman were not a Perfect Man, he would not be able to make other men humble themselves before him. And if men, in humbling themselves before him, lack purity of intention, then they will never attain the Truth. As a result, they will go on forever bringing injury upon themselves. Alas! There is no greater misfortune than for a man to lack benevolence. And yet you alone dare to invite such misfortune!"

 

 

What seems obvious to me here, is that Confucius was shunned by the True Man because his dedication to benevolence made him insincere or not whole. His inner Truth was not the guide of his outer actions. He couldn't be honest with the True Man because his adherence to conformity, "benevolence," was always the important thing for him. Thus, the simple, honest, True Man couldn't be bothered.

 

Note that 仁ren depicts 3 people, and gets its meaning in suggesting the way that people interact with one another, ideally in a humane and benevolent way. But what this meant, especially during the times of Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu, and Confucius, in terms of comportment of behaviour, was to "conform" to the expectations of parents, leaders, teachers, older siblings, etc.. If you did not do this, you would be considered someone with no regard for others, thus "inhumane."

 

To make this sacrifice, of conforming to the expectations of your parents and the "greater good of society," ie., the success of the emperor, that was "benevolence" - the obligations of all people towards their elders and emperor.

 

This sort of behaviour towards authority was admonished in this chapter as well:

 

"Moreover, there are eight faults that men may possess, and four evils that beset their undertakings - you must not fail to examine these carefully. To do what it is not your business to do is called officiousness. To rush forward when no one has nodded in your direction is called obsequiousness. To echo a man's opinions and try to draw him out in speech is called sycophancy. To speak without regard for what is right or wrong is called flattery[...]"

 

 

I think this chapter, especially, shows the Daoist's consideration of benevolence and how they understood it, and thus, how the reference to it in chapter five of the Dao De Jing was meant to be understood.

Edited by Harmonious Emptiness
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Great stuff. I love the chapters where he teases Confucius.

 

I agree with him, and your observations.

 

I've never looked at the origins of 仁 before. One source suggests that it originally depicted equality between people -- the idea that the monarch and the commoner are no different. This is great,but what it came to mean -- conformity -- eugh.... I hate that word.

 

 

Rites are something created by the vulgar men of the world; the Truth is that which is received from Heaven.

 

Truth!

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It is interesting to note that, in the Chuang Tzu, this was not the way of the True Man of Dao.

That is for sure correct.

 

But it still might be a worthy discussion of Taoist concepts.

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Great stuff. I love the chapters where he teases Confucius.

 

I agree with him, and your observations.

 

I've never looked at the origins of 仁 before. One source suggests that it originally depicted equality between people -- the idea that the monarch and the commoner are no different. This is great,but what it came to mean -- conformity -- eugh.... I hate that word.

 

I would suggest that even this equality refers all classes acting in conformity to these standards of conformist behaviour and/or thinking.

 

But it still might be a worthy discussion of Taoist concepts.

 

I'd suggest that in place of this "conformist benevolence," Daoists have ci, translated as love, referring to genuine heartfelt appreciation of people, and that this results in things such as righteousness. According to this chapter, Confucius had loyalty in his heart.

 

Of course, we shouldn't be so hard on Confucius even if he was like the person in this chapter. After all, even being the great Confucius, he always maintained a humble students mind. Who, then, am I to pretend to be a know-it-all?

Edited by Harmonious Emptiness
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I'd suggest that in place of this "conformist benevolence," Daoists have ci, translated as love, referring to genuine heartfelt appreciation of people, and that this results in things such as righteousness. According to this chapter, Confucius had loyalty in his heart.

 

Of course, we shouldn't be so hard on Confucius even if he was like the person in this chapter. After all, even being the great Confucius, he always maintained a humble students mind. Who, then, am I to pretend to be a know-it-all?

Yeah, about the only time I would say something negative about Confucius would be when I am comparing him to Lao Tzu or Chuang Tzu.

 

Afterall, his main interest was order within the empire. Nothing wrong with that.

 

And I do agree with your first sentence above although I would use the word "compassion" rather than "love".

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Okay, just to add to the discussion I offer this:

(Lao Tzu then Chuang Tzu)

 

Nature Is Impartial

Heaven and Earth are impartial;
They treat the Ten Thousand Things
Like sacrificial straw-dogs.

The Sage is impartial;
He treats the common people
Like sacrificial straw-dogs.


(This is the doctrine of naturalism, the Sage reaching the impartiality and often the stolid indifference of Nature.

It should be explained that:

(1) There is a consistent view of a great Tao, the source of all creation, which rises above all individual things and persons. One of the most important concepts about Tao is that it is entirely impersonal and impartial in its workings. In this concept of impartiality, Tao resembles the scientist’s concept of an impersonal law, which makes no exceptions for individuals.

(2) The philosophers of Taoism emphasize that Tao benefits all without conscious kindness. They constantly attack any doctrine leading to conscious affectation. In the world of unconscious goodness, the people were “kind”, but they “did not know it was called humanity;” they “did right,” but “did not know it was called justice.”

(3) They emphasize that the true love of mankind exceeds the partial love of one’s relatives.)


The Sage Spreads Blessings Upon All Things

A Sage was describing Tao as his master. “Ah! My Master, my Master! Tao trims down all created things, and does not account it justice. Tao causes all created things to thrive and does not account it kindness. Dating back further than the remotest antiquity, it does not account itself old. Covering Heaven, supporting Earth, and fashioning the various forms of things, it does not account itself skilled. It is Tao you should seek.”

And so it is that when the Sage wages war, he can destroy a kingdom and yet does not lose the affection of its people; he spreads blessings upon all things, but does not regard it as love of fellowmen. He who has personal attachments is not humane.

Now perfect Tao cannot be given a name. A perfect argument does not employ words. Perfect kindness does not concern itself with individual acts of kindness. For the Tao which is manifest is not Tao. Speech which argues falls short of its aim. Kindness which has fixed objects loses its scope.


The Love Of The Sage

The prime minister asked the Sage about love.

“Tigers and wolves are loving animals,” said the Sage.

“What do you mean?” asked the prime minister.

“The tiger loves her cub. Why isn’t she a loving animal?”

“What about perfect kindness?” asked the prime minister.

“Perfect kindness has no regard for particular relations.”

“I have heard it said,” replied the prime minister, “that without relations, one has no love, and without love, one has no filial piety. How can you say that the perfect kind man has no filial piety?”

“You don’t understand,” said the Sage. “Perfect kindness is indeed the ideal. It is so much higher than filial piety. The filial piety that you speak of is not enough; it falls short of true piety.”

To a person who is born beautiful people give a mirror. But if people did not tell him, he would not know that he was beautiful. He seems to be aware and yet unaware of it, to have heard and yet not to have heard. Thus he never loses his beauty and people admire him forever. To a person who loves his fellowmen, people give a name, ‘humanity’. But if people did not tell him, he would not know that he was kind. He seems to be aware and yet unaware of his kindness, to have heard it and yet not to have heard it. Thus he never loses his kindness, and people are at ease in his presence forever.”

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To follow the collective effort towards immense populations living in harmony, one models one's self on the expectations, and thus obligations, of one's society, parents, teachers, etc.. This was considered "considerate," towards social harmony, your parents, and the emperors. To always do as they expect you to do was the basis of moral considerations towards others, from which all other moral actions would follow. Following the rules, as such, was revered as "benevolence, and humanity."

 

It is interesting to note that, in the Chuang Tzu, this was not the way of the True Man of Dao.

 

from section 31, The Old Fisherman (trans. Watson)

 

 

Tzu-lu was still framing his reply when Tzu-kung answered, "This man of the K'ung family [Confucius] in his inborn nature adheres to loyalty and good faith, in his person practices benevolence and righteousness; [note that these are distinguished. The most important thing in his heart is loyalty, and thus benevolence is his action] he brings a beautiful order to rites and music and selects what is proper in human relationships. Above, he pays allegiance to the sovereign of the age; below, he transforms the ordinary people through education, and in this way brings profit to the world. Such is the occupation of this man of the Kung family!"

[...]

The stranger then laughed and turned to go, saying as he walked away, "As far as benevolence goes, he is benevolent all right. But I'm afraid he will not escape unharmed. To weary the mind and wear out the body, putting the Truth in peril like this - alas, I'm afraid he is separated from the Great Way by a vast distance indeed!"

[....]

Confucius looked shamefaced and said, "Please, may I ask what you mean by `the Truth'?"

 

The stranger said, "By `the Truth' I mean purity and sincerity in their highest degree. He who lacks purity and sincerity cannot move others. Therefore he who forces himself to lament, though he may sound sad, will awaken no grief. He who forces himself to be angry, though he may sound fierce, will arouse no awe. And he who forces himself to be affectionate, though he may smile, will create no air of harmony. True sadness need make no sound to awaken grief; true anger need not show itself to arouse awe; true affection need not smile to create harmony. When a man has the Truth within himself, his spirit may move among external things. That is why the Truth is to be prized!

 

"It may be applied to human relationships in the following ways. In the service of parents, it is love and filial piety; in the service of the ruler, it is loyalty and integrity; in festive wine drinking, it is merriment and joy; in periods of mourning, it is sadness and grief. In loyalty and integrity, service is the important thing; in festive drinking, merriment is the important thing; in periods of mourning, grief is the important thing; in the service of parents, their comfort is the important thing. In seeking to perform the finest kind of service, one does not always try to go about it in the same way. In assuring comfort in the serving of one's parents, one does not question the means to be employed. In seeking the merriment that comes with festive drinking, one does not fuss over what cups and dishes are to be selected. In expressing the grief that is appropriate to periods of mourning, one does not quibble over the exact ritual to be followed.

 

"Rites are something created by the vulgar men of the world; the Truth is that which is received from Heaven. By nature it is the way it is and cannot be changed. Therefore the sage patterns himself on Heaven, prizes the Truth, and does not allow himself to be cramped by the vulgar. The stupid man does the opposite of this. He is unable to pattern himself on Heaven and instead frets over human concerns. He does not know enough to prize the Truth but instead, plodding along with the crowd, he allows himself to be changed by vulgar ways, and so is never content. Alas, that you fell into the slough of human hypocrisy at such an early age, and have been so late in hearing of the Great Way!"

[...]

 

 

The Fisherman goes on to say that Confucius cannot follow him because he is not yet "True."

Confucius then almost comically goes on to prove this by admonishing his followers for not following the rules of "benevolence," not doing those things which are accepted as "the proper things to do."

 

"Confucius leaned forward on the crossbar, sighed, and said, "You certainly are hard to change! All this time you have been immersed in the study of ritual principles and you still haven't gotten rid of your mean and servile ways of thinking. Come closer and I will explain to you. To meet an elder and fail to treat him with respect is a breach of etiquette. To see a worthy man and fail to honor him is to lack benevolence. If the fisherman were not a Perfect Man, he would not be able to make other men humble themselves before him. And if men, in humbling themselves before him, lack purity of intention, then they will never attain the Truth. As a result, they will go on forever bringing injury upon themselves. Alas! There is no greater misfortune than for a man to lack benevolence. And yet you alone dare to invite such misfortune!"

 

 

What seems obvious to me here, is that Confucius was shunned by the True Man because his dedication to benevolence made him insincere or not whole. His inner Truth was not the guide of his outer actions. He couldn't be honest with the True Man because his adherence to conformity, "benevolence," was always the important thing for him. Thus, the simple, honest, True Man couldn't be bothered.

 

Note that 仁ren depicts 3 people, and gets its meaning in suggesting the way that people interact with one another, ideally in a humane and benevolent way. But what this meant, especially during the times of Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu, and Confucius, in terms of comportment of behaviour, was to "conform" to the expectations of parents, leaders, teachers, older siblings, etc.. If you did not do this, you would be considered someone with no regard for others, thus "inhumane."

 

To make this sacrifice, of conforming to the expectations of your parents and the "greater good of society," ie., the success of the emperor, that was "benevolence" - the obligations of all people towards their elders and emperor.

 

This sort of behaviour towards authority was admonished in this chapter as well:

 

"Moreover, there are eight faults that men may possess, and four evils that beset their undertakings - you must not fail to examine these carefully. To do what it is not your business to do is called officiousness. To rush forward when no one has nodded in your direction is called obsequiousness. To echo a man's opinions and try to draw him out in speech is called sycophancy. To speak without regard for what is right or wrong is called flattery[...]"

 

 

I think this chapter, especially, shows the Daoist's consideration of benevolence and how they understood it, and thus, how the reference to it in chapter five of the Dao De Jing was meant to be understood.

 

If only this was more than a caricature founded on a parody, it might be possible to learn something of Ren. This is from one of the Fundamental Texts of ConFucianism the Zhonyong:

 

自誠明、謂之性。自明誠、謂之教。誠則明矣、明則誠矣。唯天下至誠、爲能盡其性。能盡其性、則能盡人之性。能盡人之性、則能盡物之性。能盡物之性、則可以贊天地之化育。可以贊天地之化育、則可以與天地參矣。其次致曲。曲能有誠、誠則形、形則著、著則明、明則動、動則變、變則化。唯天下至誠爲能化。至誠之道、可以前知。國家將興、必有禎祥。國家將亡、必有妖孽。見乎蓍龜、動乎四體。禍福將至。善、必先知之。不善、必先知之。故至誠如神。

 

21. The enlightenment that comes from sincerity is our own nature. The sincerity that comes from enlightenment is called “education.” If you are sincere you will be enlightened. If you are enlightened, you will be sincere.

 

22. Only the perfectly sincere person can actualize his own essence. Actualizing his own essence, he can fully actualize the essence of others. Fully actualizing the essence of others, he can fully actualize the essence of all things. Being able to fully actualize the essence of all things, he can assist Heaven and Earth in their transformation and sustenance. Able to assist in Heaven and Earth's transformation and sustenance, he forms a trinity with Heaven and Earth.

 

23. Those of the next level straighten out their own twistedness. Being straightened they can possess sincerity. Having sincerity, they can give form to their character. Their character having form, their sincerity becomes manifest. Being manifest it is luminous, being luminous it can function. Functioning, it changes; changing, it transforms. Only the most fully actualized sincerity is able to transform people and things.

 

24. Once you are in the Path of fully actualized sincerity, you have foreknowledge of things. When a nation or clan is about to rise up, there are always omens of their fortune. When a nation or clan is about to fall, there are always omens of their misfortune. It can be seen in the milfoil stalks, 3 tortoise shells 4 and in the movements of the body. When good or evil fortune is imminent, the perfectly sincere person will know without obstruction. With fully actualized sincerity, you are like a god. (Emphasis mine, ZYD, A. Charles Muller, Zhongyong, or Doctrine of the mean 21-24)

 

Only the peson who has truly realized chéng, 诚, usually rendered as "sincerity", but in this case "authentic" is a better translation, can be truly Ren and then 仁 refers to the trinity of Heaven, Earth and the Sage.

 

Only a person who takes the conduct of a Sage as his example can achieve this, not a nonperson who lives solely to the expectations of others. A Confucian will always be mindful of the expectations of others, but will always look to his Heaven conferred nature as his model, and thus transforms the expectations of others, by living true (another meaning of chéng) to himself (herself too, of course).

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Note that 仁ren depicts 3 people, and gets its meaning in suggesting the way that people interact with one another, ideally in a humane and benevolent way. But what this meant, especially during the times of Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu, and Confucius, in terms of comportment of behaviour, was to "conform" to the expectations of parents, leaders, teachers, older siblings, etc.. If you did not do this, you would be considered someone with no regard for others, thus "inhumane."

 

To make this sacrifice, of conforming to the expectations of your parents and the "greater good of society," ie., the success of the emperor, that was "benevolence" - the obligations of all people towards their elders and emperor.

 

Great topic to discuss :)

 

This line of thinking of conformity makes me think of ancestor worship, which predates Confucius but he put a patent on it.

 

恕, 惠, 親, 忍 are considered related meanings.

 

人,仁也,- Person, Ren also.

 

仁生物也。- Ren is life form too.

 

And the mere fact of being a person (人) shows that as well in the Book of Change, Yi Jing:

 

故《》曰:立人之道,曰仁與義

and the way of men, under the names of benevolence and righteousness.

(Legge translation)

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If only this was more than a caricature founded on a parody, it might be possible to learn something of Ren. This is from one of the Fundamental Texts of ConFucianism the Zhonyong:

 

I agree that Zhongyong goes in this direction as well; though it was written by Confucius' grandson Zisi 子思 (interesting name -- "Master Mind Cultivation/Contemplation" since contemplation 思 is depicted with "heart-mind; land that can be cultivated"), rather than by Confucius.

 

I think it's not really hidden that the depiction of Confucius was supposed to be a caricature, cartoonish even, used as a catalyst to critique the wayward loyalty to a prescribed conformity, conformity of behaviour and reactions, as required of people by the social hegemony that had developed from Confucius' writings.

 

Though the question here is not so much about what ren meant to Confucians (after Confucius, who likely read the Dao De Jing), but what ren means in the Chuang Tzu, and the Lao Tzu.

 

 

Only the peson who has truly realized chéng, 诚, usually rendered as "sincerity", but in this case "authentic" is a better translation, can be truly Ren and then 仁 refers to the trinity of Heaven, Earth and the Sage.

 

Only a person who takes the conduct of a Sage as his example can achieve this, not a nonperson who lives solely to the expectations of others. A Confucian will always be mindful of the expectations of others, but will always look to his Heaven conferred nature as his model, and thus transforms the expectations of others, by living true (another meaning of chéng) to himself (herself too, of course).

Edited by Harmonious Emptiness

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Okay, just to add to the discussion I offer this:

(Lao Tzu then Chuang Tzu)

 

Nature Is Impartial

 

Heaven and Earth are impartial;

They treat the Ten Thousand Things

Like sacrificial straw-dogs.

 

The Sage is impartial;

He treats the common people

Like sacrificial straw-dogs.

 

 

(This is the doctrine of naturalism, the Sage reaching the impartiality and often the stolid indifference of Nature.

 

It should be explained that:

 

(1) There is a consistent view of a great Tao, the source of all creation, which rises above all individual things and persons. One of the most important concepts about Tao is that it is entirely impersonal and impartial in its workings. In this concept of impartiality, Tao resembles the scientist’s concept of an impersonal law, which makes no exceptions for individuals.

 

(2) The philosophers of Taoism emphasize that Tao benefits all without conscious kindness. They constantly attack any doctrine leading to conscious affectation. In the world of unconscious goodness, the people were “kind”, but they “did not know it was called humanity;” they “did right,” but “did not know it was called justice.”

 

(3) They emphasize that the true love of mankind exceeds the partial love of one’s relatives.)

 

 

The Sage Spreads Blessings Upon All Things

 

A Sage was describing Tao as his master. “Ah! My Master, my Master! Tao trims down all created things, and does not account it justice. Tao causes all created things to thrive and does not account it kindness. Dating back further than the remotest antiquity, it does not account itself old. Covering Heaven, supporting Earth, and fashioning the various forms of things, it does not account itself skilled. It is Tao you should seek.”

 

And so it is that when the Sage wages war, he can destroy a kingdom and yet does not lose the affection of its people; he spreads blessings upon all things, but does not regard it as love of fellowmen. He who has personal attachments is not humane.

 

Now perfect Tao cannot be given a name. A perfect argument does not employ words. Perfect kindness does not concern itself with individual acts of kindness. For the Tao which is manifest is not Tao. Speech which argues falls short of its aim. Kindness which has fixed objects loses its scope.

 

 

The Love Of The Sage

 

The prime minister asked the Sage about love.

 

“Tigers and wolves are loving animals,” said the Sage.

 

“What do you mean?” asked the prime minister.

 

“The tiger loves her cub. Why isn’t she a loving animal?”

 

“What about perfect kindness?” asked the prime minister.

 

“Perfect kindness has no regard for particular relations.”

 

“I have heard it said,” replied the prime minister, “that without relations, one has no love, and without love, one has no filial piety. How can you say that the perfect kind man has no filial piety?”

 

“You don’t understand,” said the Sage. “Perfect kindness is indeed the ideal. It is so much higher than filial piety. The filial piety that you speak of is not enough; it falls short of true piety.”

 

To a person who is born beautiful people give a mirror. But if people did not tell him, he would not know that he was beautiful. He seems to be aware and yet unaware of it, to have heard and yet not to have heard. Thus he never loses his beauty and people admire him forever. To a person who loves his fellowmen, people give a name, ‘humanity’. But if people did not tell him, he would not know that he was kind. He seems to be aware and yet unaware of his kindness, to have heard it and yet not to have heard it. Thus he never loses his kindness, and people are at ease in his presence forever.”

 

 

 

Thanks for the contribution MH.

 

As you probably remember, this was essentially the stance on the matter which I had taken previously - that ren referred to partiality towards those closest to him or her.

 

I would suggest that this partiality is also part of the conformity which I'm talking about now. After all, to ignore the expectations of this partiality would have been viewed as almost inexplicably non-conformist, save perhaps for the Mohists which were a bit of a fringe group as well. And of course, that partiality is based on loyalty - the same thing which imposes conformist thinking and behaviours.

 

 

Also, would you have the chapter numbers of the excerpts from the Chuang Tzu? I don't recognize those titles.

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Great topic to discuss :)

 

This line of thinking of conformity makes me think of ancestor worship, which predates Confucius but he put a patent on it.

 

恕, 惠, 親, 忍 are considered related meanings.

 

人,仁也,- Person, Ren also.

 

仁生物也。- Ren is life form too.

 

And the mere fact of being a person (人) shows that as well in the Book of Change, Yi Jing:

 

故《》曰:立人之道,曰仁與義

and the way of men, under the names of benevolence and righteousness.

(Legge translation)

 

Where exactly can I find these quotes?

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Click on this: , which comes from this:

 

故《》曰:立人之道,曰仁與義

and the way of men, under the names of benevolence and righteousness.

(Legge translation)

 

and you will be taken straight to the Chinese Text Projects online version of the Yi Jing.

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Also, would you have the chapter numbers of the excerpts from the Chuang Tzu? I don't recognize those titles.

That is Extra Top Secret information. If I told you I would then have o cut out your tongue so that you could not speak the words and cut off your fingers so that you could not write the words.

 

Sorry about that. I am feeling spunky today.

 

Actually, that is my own compilation. The idea came from Lin Yutang's "The Wisdom of Lao Tzu". Back when I did it I had access to only Lin Yutang's and Burton Watson's translations of the Chuang Tzu so the sections came from one or the other or perhaps both. I did check and the section titles are neither Lin's or Burton's so they are likely mine.

 

I did check "The Wisdom Of Lao Tzu" and they aren't there so almost 100% they are mine.

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故《》曰:立人之道,曰仁與義

and the way of men, under the names of benevolence and righteousness.

(Legge translation)

 

In accord with the Yi Jing which it says: To stand up for the principle of men, it was said to be the benevolence and righteousness.(CD translation)

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Some more thoughts on benevolence from the Chuang Tzu (Watson trans.). Note the quotation from Dao De Jing chapter four in section II:

 

from Section II

 

"The Great Way is not named; Great Discriminations are not spoken; Great Benevolence is not benevolent; Great Modesty is not humble; Great Daring does not attack. If the Way is made clear, it is not the Way. If discriminations are put into words, they do not suffice. If benevolence has a constant object, it cannot be universal.17 If modesty is fastidious, it cannot be trusted. If daring attacks, it cannot be complete. These five are all round, but they tend toward the square.18

Therefore understanding that rests in what it does not understand is the finest. Who can understand discriminations that are not spoken, the Way that is not a way? If he can understand this, he may be called the Reservoir of Heaven. Pour into it and it is never full, dip from it and it never runs dry, and yet it does not know where the supply, comes from. This is called the Shaded [concealed] Light.19

[....]

Men claim that Mao-ch'iang and Lady Li were beautiful, but if fish saw them they would dive to the bottom of the stream, if birds saw them they would fly away, and if deer saw them they would break into a run. Of these four, which knows how to fix the standard of beauty for the world? The way I see it, the rules of benevolence and righteousness and the paths of right and wrong are all hopelessly snarled and jumbled. How could I know anything about such discriminations?"

 

 

from Section VI (Legge trans.)

 

The True men of old knew nothing of the love of life or of the hatred of death. Entrance into life occasioned them no joy; the exit from it awakened no resistance. Composedly they went and came. They did not forget what their beginning bad been, and they did not inquire into what their end would be. They accepted (their life) and rejoiced in it; they forgot (all fear of death), and returned (to their state before life). Thus there was in them what is called the want of any mind to resist the Dao [ie., they had to no mind which resists the Dao], and of all attempts by means of the Human to assist the Heavenly. Such were they who are called the True men. Being such, their minds were free from all thought; their demeanour was still and unmoved; their foreheads beamed simplicity. Whatever coldness came from them was like that of autumn; whatever warmth came from them was like that of spring. Their joy and anger assimilated to what we see in the four seasons. They did in regard to all things what was suitable, and no one could know how far their action would go. Therefore the sagely man might, in his conduct of war, destroy a state without losing the hearts of the people; his benefits and favours might extend to a myriad generations without his being a lover of men. Hence he who tries to share his joys with others is not a sagely man; he who manifests affection [有親 you qin] is not benevolent; he who observes times and seasons (to regulate his conduct) is not a man of wisdom; he to whom profit and injury are not the same is not a superior man; he who acts for the sake of the name of doing so, and loses his (proper) self is not the (right) scholar; and he who throws away his person in a way which is not the true (way) cannot command the service of others.

 

 

from Section VIII (Legge trans.)

 

A duck's legs, for instance, are short, but if we try to lengthen them, it occasions pain; and a crane's legs are long, but if we try to cut off a portion of them, it produces grief. Where a part is by nature long, we are not to amputate, or where it is by nature short, we are not to lengthen it. There is no occasion to try to remove any trouble that it may cause. The presumption is that benevolence and righteousness are not constituents of humanity; for to how much anxiety does the exercise of them give rise! Moreover when another toe is united to the great toe, to divide the membrane makes you weep; and when there is an extra finger, to gnaw it off makes you cry out. In the one case there is a member too many, and in the other a member too few; but the anxiety and pain which they cause is the same. The benevolent men of the present age look at the evils of the world, as with eyes full of dust, and are filled with sorrow by them, while those who are not benevolent, having violently altered the character of their proper nature, greedily pursue after riches and honours. The presumption therefore is that benevolence and righteousness are contrary to the nature of man - how full of trouble and contention has the world been ever since the three dynasties began!

[....]

Why then should benevolence and righteousness be employed as connecting (links), or as glue and varnish, strings and bands, and the enjoyment arising from the Dao and its characteristics be attributed to them? It is a deception practised upon the world. Where the deception is small, there will be a change in the direction (of the objects pursued); where it is great, there will be a change of the nature itself. How do I know that it is so? Since he of the line of Yu called in his benevolence and righteousness to distort and vex the world, the world has not ceased to hurry about to execute their commands - has not this been by means of benevolence and righteousness to change (men's views) of their nature?

[....]

When I pronounce men to be good, I am not speaking of their benevolence and righteousness; the goodness is simply (their possession of) the qualities (of the Dao). When I pronounce them to be good, I am not speaking of what are called benevolence and righteousness; but simply of their allowing the nature with which they are endowed to have its free course. When I pronounce men to be quick of hearing, I do not mean that they hearken to anything else, but that they hearken to themselves; when I pronounce them to be clear of vision, I do not mean that they look to anything else, but that they look to themselves. Now those who do not see themselves but see other things, who do not get possession of themselves but get possession of other things, get possession of what belongs to others, and not of what is their own; and they reach forth to what attracts others, and not to that in themselves which should attract them. But thus reaching forth to what attracts others and not to what should attract them in themselves, be they like the robber Zhi or like Bo-yi, they equally err in the way of excess or of perversity. What I am ashamed of is erring in the characteristics of the Dao, and therefore, in the higher sphere, I do not dare to insist on the practice of benevolence and righteousness, and, in the lower, I do not dare to allow myself either in the exercise of excess or perversity.

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Now, having read this (post #16 above) does the meaning of chapter five of the Dao De Jing not seem to be more connected from beginning to end?

 


5
1. Heaven and Earth are not benevolent;
2. They regard the the thousand things as straw dogs.
3. The Sage is not benevolent;
4. He regards the common people as straw dogs.

5. The space between Heaven and Earth—is it not like a bellow?
6. It is empty and yet not depleted;
7. Move it and more [always] comes out.
8. Much learning means frequent exhaustions.
9. That's not so good as holding on to the mean.

 

I would suggest here that "straw dogs" here could refer to their simplicity, or otherwise that they are formed and shaped by these ideas of benevolence and righteousness just like we are formed and shaped by the Heavens.

 

Rather than have all of these ideas of benevolence, Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu suggest freeing the mind of thoughts and strictures. Know your nature and thus not be so easily molded and twisted. Your goodness is in your true nature, not in conforming yourself to the teachings of others.

 

"Thus there was in them what is called the want of any mind to resist the Dao [ie., they had to no mind which resists the Dao], and of all attempts by means of the Human to assist the Heavenly. Such were they who are called the True men. Being such, their minds were free from all thought; their demeanour was still and unmoved; their foreheads beamed simplicity." - Chuang Tzu

 

Now, remember that thought was said to be located in the heart. Now read again the second part of chapter five:

 

5. The space between Heaven and Earth—is it not like a bellow?
6. It is empty and yet not depleted;
7. Move it and more [always] comes out.
8. Much learning means frequent exhaustions.
9. That's not so good as holding on to the mean.

 

We can be without all of these strictures and thoughts, rules of benevolence and righteousness, yet our heart-minds (between the head/Heaven and stomach/earth) will still be inexhaustibly full - even more so.

 

"When I pronounce men to be good, I am not speaking of their benevolence and righteousness; the goodness is simply (their possession of) the qualities (of the Dao). When I pronounce them to be good, I am not speaking of what are called benevolence and righteousness; but simply of their allowing the nature with which they are endowed to have its free course." - Chuang Tzu

 

 

I think that all of this shows, at least, what Chuang Tzu understood chapter five to mean.

Edited by Harmonious Emptiness
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it is important to note that words like

仁 ren: morality/correct action

and

慈 ci: fraternity/kindness

 

are not bad words in Daoism - in fact, they are frequently used in positive ways.

phrases like

天地不仁,以萬物為芻狗

heaven and earth are not moral, because all things are like grass dogs (or however you want to translate it),

 

and

六親不和,有孝慈

six family members out of harmony is when fraternal love occurs (or however you want to translate it... seems like i like to say that recently lol)

 

although looking negatively on false compassion and love (also 仁's modern meaning is basically compassion),

it does not mean that compassion and love are bad things,

have a look at

絕仁棄義,民復孝慈

discard morality and abandon observances, the people will return to fraternal love

 

these things occur in chapters 18 and 19 - so you can see how the characters 孝慈 change so much in colour in a short time.

benevolance and love are huge concepts in Daoism - but much like Jesus said in the sermon on the mount and Buddha said to his disciples in the diamond sutra - if you don't do it honestly and from your heart, in the end it has no positive effect.

I think that is what Laozi and Zhuangzi were getting at.

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it is important to note that words like

仁 ren: morality/correct action

 

Here are some good definitions for 仁(ren) that one should be referred to.

benevolence / humanity / mercy / kindness / charity / kernel

 

This is a very good and reliable source to look up the definitions of the characters.

http://www.chineseetymology.org/CharacterEtymology.aspx?submitButton1=Etymology&characterInput=%E4%BB%81

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it is important to note that words like

仁 ren: morality/correct action

and

慈 ci: fraternity/kindness

 

are not bad words in Daoism - in fact, they are frequently used in positive ways.

phrases like

天地不仁,以萬物為芻狗

heaven and earth are not moral, because all things are like grass dogs (or however you want to translate it),

 

and

六親不和,有孝慈

six family members out of harmony is when fraternal love occurs (or however you want to translate it... seems like i like to say that recently lol)

 

although looking negatively on false compassion and love (also 仁's modern meaning is basically compassion),

it does not mean that compassion and love are bad things,

have a look at

絕仁棄義,民復孝慈

discard morality and abandon observances, the people will return to fraternal love

 

these things occur in chapters 18 and 19 - so you can see how the characters 孝慈 change so much in colour in a short time.

benevolance and love are huge concepts in Daoism - but much like Jesus said in the sermon on the mount and Buddha said to his disciples in the diamond sutra - if you don't do it honestly and from your heart, in the end it has no positive effect.

I think that is what Laozi and Zhuangzi were getting at.

 

All good points, but this is more about Harmonious Emptiness's problems with Chapter 5 of the Dao De Jing than anything else. He's been trying to come up with a solution for sometime as these threads indicate:

 

Straw Dogs One

 

and here:

 

Straw Dogs Two

 

Where he explored a different avenue then attempting to demonize Ren and blame all the ills of Chinese society on Confucius. All of which is completely unnecessary because understanding Chapter Five and why neither Heaven and Earth nor the Sage can be Ren is not that hard if you pay attention to the structure of the passages and the teachings of a few other chapters. I wrote out a short proof of it yesterday and was going to post it today, but I decided to post my warning about the dangers of quoting Zhuangzi to condemn Confucius first. If anyone is interested they can find it here:

 

Confucius was Sage: Testimony of a Hostile Witness

 

Since, including the above, I have done a lot of posting here today, the proof will have to wait until tomorrow. Among its highlights will be that using Daoist definitions, both the Ten Thousand Things and The People would be worse off if Heaven and Earth and the Sage were Ren. Not as bad as they could be, but not as good off. That is of course using Daoist terminology which is not exactly the same as Confucian terminology, though comparisons can be made once the terms are looked at a little closer. So until tomorrow, or thereabouts, if tomorrow proves to be as busy a day as it looks like.

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